Show Up as a CNO in Your Nursing Career

by: Elizabeth Scala

You’re a Chief Nurse Officer

Interesting blog post title, right?  I’m not sure how many nurses are at a point in their careers where they’re thinking ‘Chief Nurse Officer’. Well, I imagine I shouldn’t assume a thing… But no- the title does speak to exactly what I am talking about and will share with you today. I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a bold statement: Every single one of you reading has a CNO inside of you! That’s right. You’re a chief nurse officer, too. Especially in today’s day and age when jobs are no longer secure and organizations are closing down, you’ve got to start thinking of yourself as a personal brand.

Every single one of you reading has a CNO inside of you! [icon name=”twitter” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

Why Does this Matter?

When you view yourself as CNO of yourself, you will:

  • Show up in your work energized, engaged, and productive. This will make you more marketable as you search for that new job or promotion.
  • Take ownership of your progress. You will set goals and hold yourself accountable to reaching them.
  • Put your best self forward. When you start to work on your personal brand and how you show up in the marketplace, you will think, speak and act like a professional nurse.
  • Be unstoppable. Others and their negativity won’t even phase you. You’ll be so focused on being your best self each day that nursing starts to be fun, no matter what the situation!

The Nerdy Nurse

Let’s take Brittney Wilson, The Nerdy Nurse, for example. She’s written a blog post for Staff Garden that speaks to the ‘why’ behind the personal brand. Now, based off of this article, and Brittney’s public persona itself (which is amazing, by the way)… let’s take this a step further. As you’re out there looking for that new job or career promotion, you want to start thinking of yourself as Chief Nurse Officer… of you! OK, so how do you do this? I’m going to share with you several suggestions that come from the entrepreneurial space that you can apply to your nursing career.

Five Tips to Being Your Best CNO

Get Clear on Your Why.

This relates to your values. Why do you do what you do? What is the reason you went into nursing in the first place? The healthcare environment is not only shifting, in can be a difficult sandbox to play in. No one wants to hire a nurse that will complain, whine, or focus on the problems. While nursing does have a tendency to be lack-focused overall, you can show up as a solutions-focused, positive-thinking, beam of light. When you see an issue, you can ask: “How can we fix this?” or “What can we learn from this?” instead of getting all beaten down and upset. Reconnect to your nurse within and the reasons you went into this profession in the first place. Then show up to your role with this as your central focus, each and every day.

Listen More than You Speak.

Now I’m not saying that you don’t stand up for yourself or what you believe in. What I am saying is a good leader asks questions. They observe the people, environment, and energy around them. They are curious and always learning. When it’s not your turn to talk- be quiet. Listen to the conversations around you. Take heed on what your organization is saying. Note what your colleagues are discussing. Pay attention to the patient and what’s important to them. A good nurse leader is always learning from everything around them. Which leads me to…

Learn from What You Hear. And Act on It.

Once you have taken the time to do the investigative work, take action on what you learn. Nurses are always being asked their opinions on things and then what happens more often than not? Nothing! How frustrating when you give that feedback and cno-600-x-853-Pinterestnothing is done about it. So as a brand- as your own CNO, working day-to-day in your nursing role- act on what you say you are going to do. Follow up- this shows professionalism. Provide solutions- solve people’s problems. When you can do that, you’ll find more and more people coming to you… which can only help your career thrive!

Leverage Your Assets.

Here we’re talking lots of things: your strengths, your professional network, the life experiences you have had. In business- we’re always taught to bring more of our ‘self’ into our work. Don’t waste time with website design, if that’s not your strength. Same thing goes for you as a nurse. What can you delegate? Who in your professional circle can you tap into for brainstorming and ideas? What life experiences can you share (keeping it professional, of course) to help you connect more deeply with your patients? Take stock of what is going for you and make it work in your favor.

Have Fun!

Although these tips are in no specific order, if I was to rank them… this would be my number one! If you’re not having fun, there’s no way things are going to get done. You’ve got to show up to your work with a smile (a real one). You’ve got to feel passionate about what you do. Trust me- we spend far too much time at work each week, but when work starts to feel like play… then it’s a no-brainer! To be a CNO, you have to enjoy yourself, your career and everything about your life. If this isn’t happening for you right now, what changes can you make to get there?

Do you currently view yourself as your own CNO? What steps do you take to feel good about your work? Be sure to tweet me @ElizabethScala on Twitter to tell me how you’re doing with your nursing career.



Elizabeth Scala

Elizabeth Scala

StaffGarden Contributor

Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the bestselling author of ‘Nursing from Within’, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver.


More From StaffGarden